by David Baker, Christian Today:
If you are of a certain age you can remember a time when Sunday was genuinely different. A time when it was peaceful, and quiet, and for that one day of the week at least, the High Streets were empty of shoppers.
It’s 25 years this year since Sunday trading rules were liberalised in England and Wales at the end of August 1994. At the time, a powerful coalition of church leaders, trades unions and others fought to stop it being deregulated even more. The name of their campaign? KSS – or Keep Sunday Special.
But now, for many Christians, it is a case of a different sort of KSS: Keep Sunday Stressful! Looking back, it is hard to believe the extent since that time to which Christians in general, and church leaders also, have simply rolled over and rolled into line with the prevailing ethic of seven-day trading and activity. It’s not a healthy development.
One illustration of this is the way, for example, that Christian conferences may start on a Monday morning without any apparent thought to the way this necessitates people travelling a wearyingly great distance on a Sunday (not to mention the assumption this also includes about how transport workers and others should be around to facilitate their journey).
And in local churches, the results week by week are even clearer. As Peter Jensen says in the latest issue of Churchman magazine: “One of the features of contemporary church life is that even those whose faith is clear and robust have a tendency to come to church somewhat irregularly. In so doing they resemble what we may call the casual attenders, always assuming that the ‘professional’ Christians will be there to run things and that their attendance is of peripheral importance.”